QAnon infighting, pro wrestling, and the beauty of brand strategy templates

If you’re building a brand, a brand strategy template can alleviate considerable guesswork, serving up ideas on how other brands like yours have gone about the business of defining and promoting themselves.

Of course, if you want to create a disruptive brand, it helps to cast your eyes to brand strategy templates in very different verticals. What are the hallmarks of how those brands are built, and are there tactics you might annex for yourself?

With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a story in today’s Washington Post by Drew Harwell, ‘The pro-Trump Internet descends into discord.’ Harwell documents how everyone from Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell to Lin Wood and Alex Jones have begun to battle each other as they grapple with the pressure of disillusioned audiences, saturated markets, ongoing investigations into their baseless election fraud claims and millions of dollars in legal bills.

The results, to quote Harwell, is “…a chaotic melodrama, playing out via secretly recorded phone calls, personal attacks in podcasts, and a seemingly endless stream of of posts on Twitter, Gab and Telegram calling their rivals Satanists, communists, pedophiles or ‘pay-triots’ – money-grubbing grifters exploiting the cause.”

Harwell connects the infighting to the diminishing financial rewards for the merchants of right-wing disinformation – a pie of donations, subscriptions, paid appearances at rallies, and book and swag sales that is getting sliced smaller and smaller as the space becomes more crowded, and financially overinvested audiences tap out .

At that point, Harwell draws an insightful conclusion: the entire affair resembles the world of pro wrestling. For example, he likens the Kyle Rittenhouse / Lin Wood feud to a ‘cage match’, complete with personal insults, public defamation, and plenty of colourful ‘smackdown’ talk.

marc stoiber brand strategy

At the heart of it all is the battle to sell – Wood sells, among other things, $64.99 #FightBack hoodies.

Harwell quotes conspiracy researcher Mike Rothschild, “Their arguments … are full of flashy, marketable story lines of heroes conquering their enemies. The drama, he said, gives the influencers a way to keep their audiences angry and engaged while also offering them a chance to prove their loyalty by buying stuff.”

So what’s to learn?

Pro wrestling has a clear brand strategy template

Pro wrestling, and especially the slickly merchandised WWE, has an incredibly powerful brand that has been meticulously built.

The brand strategy template includes insights on how to market everything from heroes and villains to events and venues – all with the intent of getting fans to subscribe, and spend.

As Susan Moeller wrote in Content Marketing Institute Magazine, some of the hallmarks of the pro wrestling brand strategy template include:

  • Making sharing appealing – even without reading
  • Masterful storytelling
  • Personality-driven characters
  • Female characters
  • Vivid imagery
  • Emotional attachment with fans
  • Less-is-more content strategy
  • Content length that works best for WWE (longer form content)
  • Headline words and phrases that drive shares for WWE.

Research your vertical’s standard brand strategy template

Scanning the internet, I didn’t discover any pre-fab brand strategy templates for designated verticals. But that’s not a terribly daunting obstacle to get past.

If you’re selling dog treats, discovering the brand tactics your competitors use is just a few clicks away.

  • Where are they active on social?
  • Are there any commonalities in their content (video vs non-video, length, subject matter?)
  • Where do they sell their products?
  • What does their packaging look like?
  • How do they build credibility? Expert testimonials? Science?
  • How do they build community among dog fans?

 

This research is well worth the effort. Even if you copy your competitors’ tactics, your own messaging and imagery will hopefully give your brand what it needs to stand out

(Worried that your brand won’t stand out because of constraints on your budget or team? Check out this story for inspiration).

Now look further afield

There may only be a select number of storylines in the world, but there are countless ways to reimagine them.

Once you feel comfortable with the foundational elements of your brand strategy template, take a look further afield – how do marketers in, say, SaaS or automotive parts build their brands?

To stand out from your competitors in a crowded market, it helps if you approach brand building with a bit of purple cow thinking: be a cow, just like the other cows – but be just different enough to stand out.

How much differentiation is too much? That’s the question I answer in this story

Test, test, test

We’re blessed to live in a time where you can directly and quickly measure if the unique elements in your brand strategy template are producing results.

Don’t get too attached to the tactics and strategies you’ve launched. Instead, keep a hungry eye peeled for other verticals that are building their brands in interesting ways. Perhaps there’s something you can borrow from the world of pro wrestling, for example?

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